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Platform: PC/Mac Disc|Edition: Italian|Change
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Showing 1-10 of 97 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 180 reviews
on January 10, 2011
I found out two months ago that my university was sending me to Italy in a year to teach for one semester. I'll be teaching in English, but my wife and I will need to live, shop, eat, travel, and deal with random problems in Italian, so we got Rosetta Stone to help us learn.

I've read reviews here and there by people who were disappointed in Rosetta Stone, but I have found it better than I expected. Having learned one language as a child, studied four more as an adult, traveled and at least briefly conversed in six, and taught one (Latin) to kids with my own textbooks (Schola Latina), I'm almost perfectly pleased with the way Rosetta Stone is helping us learn Italian.

As another reviewer points out, the program, while expensive, costs less than a semester of Italian at many a university, and you get a lot for the money. Each of five levels has four units, and each unit has four lessons; that's eighty lessons. Each lesson includes a core lesson of about forty screens, and from four to fifteen supplemental and review exercises of five to fifteen screens. That's about 10,000 screens of exercises in the main track of the program. In addition, you get fifteen months of free access to games, stories, and interaction with native speakers, all coordinated with your progress in the program. Each level also comes with four long CDs for repetitive drill.

Rosetta Stone's special angle is that the student doesn't translate. That is, you don't respond to words in one language with words in another language. Most of the exercises are based on pictures -- cleverly clear pictures. But the program is not all about responding to pictures by choosing words, as some reviews have suggested; different screens call on, exercise, and build different skills. Sometimes you respond to written words by choosing a matching picture. Sometimes you respond to a picture by choosing a matching written word or phrase. Sometimes you respond to a spoken phrase by choosing a picture, and sometimes you respond to a picture by speaking a phrase. (The program has voice-recognition capabilities and will tell you how close your pronunciation is. You can turn the sensitivity up or down in the settings, and you can visually compare your pronunciation with the program's by clicking to see an audio graph.) Sometimes you respond to a picture or spoken phrase by typing a phrase. And in screens covering grammar, you look at a picture and choose one of two or three choices of endings, words, or phrases.

In between sessions on the computer, you can practice repeating syllables, words, phrases, and sentences with the CDs. One reviewer called the CDs useless, but I must disagree. "Fluent" means flowing, and getting the words of another language flowing out of your mouth requires repetitive practice speaking familiar phrases, just as becoming fluent on a piece of music requires playing it repeatedly, even after you know the notes intellectually.

The program doesn't shoot straight to handy travel phrases like "Where's the metro station?" or "Do you have a vacancy?" Its goal is to give working knowledge of the language, so you learn basic vocabulary, grammar, and idioms before getting to travel phrases. They might be trying to get extra money out of you by "tricking" you to buy at least two levels, but I think the approach is appropriate if the goal is to learn to read and converse in the language. After all, if you only want to greet someone and ask how much the souvenir costs, you can get a Rick Steves phrase book for a lot less.

We've almost finished Level 1, and so far we've learned colors; household objects and rooms of the house; family members; animals; clothes; eating; numbers up to 69; being cold, hot, hungry, thirsty, tired, and well; how to say where you're from, where you work, and when you do various activities; occupations; basic shopping; how to ask questions; and quite a bit more. Could we travel with this knowledge? No. But what it allows us to do is practice spontaneously with each other all day here at home, because most of our time together is spent working, eating, putting on clothes, finding things in the house, and interacting with other members of the family or the pets. And now we have the means to talk about all these things in Italian. Clever program! The titles on Level 2 suggest that we're going to learn travel phrases and more tenses (everything is in present tense so far).

Now, the program is touted as the natural way to learn a language. But note that it is named after a discovery that allowed linguists to learn a forgotten language in a most unnatural way. And remember that learning a language by repeating stock responses to phrases and pictures is only the natural way to learn a language when you're two. You still need your mother to correct you constantly: "Not 'I goed outside,' Johnny. 'I went outside.' " The exercises in Rosetta Stone introduce the student systematically to grammatical gender, conjugations, declensions, irregular verbs and nouns, rules of syntax, etc., but you have to notice the details and draw up the rules yourself. The program doesn't say, "Notice that the last letter of the word for 'black' is one thing when you're talking about a cat and another when you're talking about a car. Remember that these words represent two different categories of words called 'genders,' and note the gender of each noun you learn." If you've learned other languages before, especially Romance languages (or their mother, Latin), you notice many of these details. But if not, you might be quite confused by what seem like random inconsistencies. In any case, we teach older kids and teen-agers (and my graduate students!) a systematic understanding of the grammar of our native language, and as an adult, you should probably supplement Rosetta Stone with another cheap program that has grammar lessons. It's good to hear the varying details and and work them in to memory by rote, but it's also good to read and learn a rule for why they vary the way they do.

But if you've spent $300-750 on Rosetta Stone, you can stand to buy another $20 book. We're happy with what we're learning with Rosetta Stone and have confidence that we'll be prepared for the immersion experience a year from now.
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on September 2, 2012
Okay, so I'm not fluent or anything, and I'm only on level one of five. I don't know yet how well I'll be able to converse with people at the end of this program. I am doing this right, though, with great motivation to learn Italian, and I believe I can offer some useful information to those considering the Rosetta Stone program as a PART of their language learning process.

I give this five stars based on what Rosetta Stone is intended for, not some independent rating based on some fantasy or educational philosophy. If you take this or other five star reviews to mean Rosetta Stone will easily make you fluent without any other outside learning, you are misunderstanding what Rosetta Stone can do for you.

With the disclaimers out of the way, here's my review.

The Rosetta Stone program is a wonderful introduction to a language. It teaches you vocabulary, pronunciation, spelling, and along the way you absorb some grammar as well. It builds up your confidence and keeps you motivated. Those last two things are very important. Rosetta Stone does not teach you Italian culture, or Italy-specific words. Rosetta Stone does not teach you how to conjugate verbs, though you will be conjugating verbs without realizing that's what you're doing along the way. You will never see translations into or from English on anything. You will be presented with pictures, text, and audio, and need to speak, type, and choose pictures or text to complete each exercise. Each exercise repeats words and concepts from before, but does so in a slightly different way, which trains your brain quite effectively and you will learn the material with excellent recall later. You will learn to listen, speak, read, and spell.

The ease at which I have learned the vocabulary in the program was really quite surprising. I can recall words and sentences readily, because the multi-format repetition used in Rosetta Stone burns it into your brain. At the end of a session, I have a headache and I'm hungry. I can feel my brain burning up calories and moving neurons around. To me, this is a great sign (and a sign to take a break so I don't burn out). When I later need to use some aspect of what I've learned before and it comes to me instantly, I can see the results quite clearly. What I've learned so far has no real usefulness to a tourist, at least so far, but if all I wanted to do was ask where the bathroom was, or buy train tickets, I'd just memorize a phrase book. They are a lot cheaper than Rosetta Stone, and if push comes to shove I can take it with me and point at phrases in the book to convey my meaning. What I want is to truly know the language.

Rosetta Stone alone is not going to make you fluent. I have a long ways to go with the program, but I'm pretty sure I can say that. The fact is, Rosetta Stone is very, very good at getting you to memorize things, without making it seem like you're memorizing things. But that memorization only goes so far, even if it's perfectly designed to make sure you can think and speak in Italian without having to pause and translate back and forth with your native tongue. Rosetta Stone is fun, it uses a variety of techniques to utilize all your learning "vectors", and it's great at motivating you to stick with it. But if you really want to learn a new language, you need to do more than sit in front of a computer running Rosetta Stone.

Think about how long it took you to learn your first language. You spent years as a baby and toddler, babbling away with constant corrections from your parents and perhaps siblings. As you get older and go to school, they formally teach you new words and some basic grammar concepts, more and more as you go along. You watched television and movies. You read books and had spontaneous conversations all throughout the day for years. You had spelling bees and gave oral book reports. You're still learning the language, too, learning new words all the time. Ort, bezoar, merism, fugacious, inveigh, erotema, anacoenosis, apotheosis, bedizen, meretricious.

Rosetta Stone is something you turn on, use for half an hour to a couple hours at a stretch, and then turn it off again. See the difference? Even if it was perfect at teaching you a language as a baby learns his first language, it's not hard to see how it can't possibly get you to native speaker fluency.

Rosetta Stone is really quite excellent as the core structure of your curriculum, but you need more than just Rosetta Stone in your curriculum. Doing a lesson a day, for 80 days, you can complete the five levels in the Rosetta Stone program and have a fairly large vocabulary, and understand quite a bit of the language. In fact, I recommend doing just that, because it will keep you working on it every day, making clear progress, and build up your confidence and vocabulary. But that can't be all you do to learn Italian.

When you're not at the computer, practice your vocabulary on the world around you. Narrate your life as you live it, in Italian. Don't translate what you want to say, just stick to the Italian in your thoughts and words. Try forming sentences that you weren't directly taught in Rosetta Stone, but know how to do anyway because you've picked up on some grammar. Listen to the audio CDs included for the section you're working on now, as well as all the older ones. Practice your pronunciation, and listen carefully to the nuance. The Rosetta Stone audio is top quality, so take advantage of it. Get a grammar book (I highly recommend, as other reviewers have, Essential Italian Grammar by Olga Ragusa) and read it. Flip through it again often, focusing on the areas you're currently learning in Rosetta Stone. Get a nice big thick English/Italian dictionary (I use Webster's New World Italian Dictionary). If, as you narrate your life in Italian, you come across a thing or action you haven't learned yet, look it up in your dictionary and add it to your vocabulary. You might want to get a "mini" dictionary as well, that is easier to carry with you. Get a phrase book too, I like Rick Steves' Italian Phrase Book & Dictionary. Learn some new phrases, in addition to the ones Rosetta Stone teaches you, but really learn them. What words do you already recognize from a different context? What clues on grammar can you identify? What words can you take from those sentences and use in others of your own creation?

Oh wait, but there's more. Call up your cable company and subscribe to to an Italian language channel. Where I am, I can get Rai Italia. Watch some game shows, and some cultural programming. Pick up some simple books in the Italian language, and try to read them without using your dictionary. You'll be surprised how much you can figure out from the context of what you already know. See if you can rent or buy some foreign films in Italian, and don't use the subtitles.

Learning a foreign language is hard. Rosetta Stone will give you the best possible start, but you need to put in some hard work outside of the program and don't expect it to do everything for you. Rosetta Stone gives you simple and clear Italian to allow you to effectively communicate your ideas. Real Italian is often mumbled, spoken quickly, or said in thick regional accents. It's filled with slang. The sooner you're exposed to it, the sooner you can start to understand Italian as you're likely to encounter it on a tour of Italy. Use Rosetta Stone for all its worth, which I would argue is considerable, but don't only use Rosetta Stone. Before you even feel confident, you should start talking to native speakers. Find out if there's a language club in your area. Talk to random Italians on Skype, or native Italian speakers in your community. Visit Italian language web forums or chat rooms on a subject you're interested in. There's a lot you can do for free or very cheap to supplement your Rosetta Stone learning experience. Don't be a passive learner, go out and be active with your Italian as much and as early as possible. Practice what you learn from Rosetta Stone, and don't ever be satisfied with what Rosetta Stone teaches you.

I recommend Rosetta Stone as the core of a language learning curriculum, but it's only one part of it.

Okay, that was a long review, but some quick addressing of Rosetta Stone's most common criticisms.
1) Price. It's expensive, yes, but you get what you pay for. The pictures are all high quality and quite clear in what concepts they are conveying. The extensive research into language learning Rosetta Stone does is quite evident in the program. You are also paying for their huge marketing campaigns, of course. But I've done some research on credit hour pricing at local colleges, and you should too. Rosetta Stone is not so expensive after all, and I could never really learn a foreign language in a formal classroom, anyway.
2) Repetitive/boring. It's certainly repetitive, but I wouldn't exactly say it's boring. Look, you get out of this what you put into it. If you don't find this interesting, why are you learning Italian anyway? When the program is repetitive, I know it's because the more repetitions I get on something, especially in Rosetta Stone's case where the repetitions are often in different formats, I know I'm going to retain it better. I don't mind in the slightest, because I want to learn Italian, and I enjoy learning Italian.
3) Too easy. It's true you can figure things out much of the time by process of elimination. I would argue that's not exactly a bad thing, since you're still absorbing the language this way, and the whole idea is the pictures are unambiguous. More to the point, you can cheat at this if you want to, but you're only cheating yourself. Don't just hit the answer quickly because it's the last picture left on the page, or a particular noun only applies to one image. Read the full sentence, or look over all the pictures, and do it right.
4) No conjugation tables. This one is certainly valid. As I said above, you should get yourself a grammar book if you really want to learn Italian. Rosetta Stone won't make it completely obvious what's going on with various conjugations and quirks of Italian grammar. Rosetta Stone will still present you with grammatically correct sentences that you can and may instinctually figure out over time. Grammar lessons aren't total immersion, though, to be clear.
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on March 10, 2017
Caution for users who want to learn on your IPhone or IPad...... The product will allow you to access online through IPhone or IPad for the FIRST USER FOR THE FIRST 3 MONTHS ONLY. If the 2nd - 5th user wants access on their IPhone or IPad then it is an additional cost of $14 per month for EACH person, $39 for 3 months, $74 for 6 months or $89 for 9 months. They can use the computer it was installed on for free for lifetime, but if you want to use it on your IPhone or IPad then you have to pay.

I would have given this 5 stars if all users would be able to access via mobile devices, but since you have to pay for each additional user to learn on the go, I can only give it 4 stars.

In short, if you are purchasing beware of the additional fees if you want to use it somewhere other than the computer that it was installed on.
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on July 1, 2015
Here is the issue with Rosetta Stone -- Their language learning approach is great but the company, website, any interaction with employees, software functionality is totally and completely awful. They seem to have brilliant people to develop the language learning approach and spent as little money as possible to develop everything else. For example, if you order instant download of Rosetta Stone it takes up to 24 hours to be able to download. Language learning portion of software it great but the online UI for learning, games, and reading is very clunky. It has problems crashing and loading in a timely fashion. I think their customer service people receive little to no training.
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on July 4, 2014
I waited and saved up a long time for this $300 item. It is very disappointing. I have taken a few italian courses and been to Italy more than 10 times. I consider myself a beginner when speaking the language but I can get around and converse with the locals.
This program is terrible for speaking practice. I setup the microphone and started with lesson one. Given my background with basic words I expected to ace the first unit. And I did. However something did not seem right - EVERY word I spoke was accepted. I then threw in a bogus wrong word and IT WAS ACCEPTED too..... I turned the speach recognition to the highest difficulty and it still accepts most every word - wrong or correct. I think the speech program is completely giving us a false sense of knowing we are speaking correctly. And this is what you need this program to do, all the other stuff with clicking on the right match can be found on the internet for free.
I would recommend you save your money and take a course locally.
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on April 29, 2016
I am close to the end of Level Five now, so I feel I've had enough exposure to this product to be able to write an informed review on it.

Two of the most major fundamental elements of learning a language are vocabulary and grammar. Rosetta Stone (at least the Italian version) does all teaching through showing and not telling, through giving you examples with photographs to show what the object is. That's awesome for vocabulary, and on that front this program succeeds.

On grammar, on the other hand, it fails miserably. At the risk of sounding pedantic, a family member once told me that one of the greatest disgraces in language learning is to for one go through a year or two, and after all that, still not be able to conjugate a single verb. That's honestly where I am with this program (I cannot conjugate "to be" or "to have" or any other verb fully, for example); because Rosetta doesn't "tell" you how to conjugate, but only "shows" you through examples, you have to learn by accumulating from experience what the proper first person singular is, what the proper third person plural is, etc for a verb. It comes off as scattershot in my opinion really; granted, yes, I know Rosetta is going for a "realistic" experience, one which a person would have if learning the language from "the real world" and not in a classroom. All the same, I honestly wouldn't mind seeing a conjugation tree or two in this program nonetheless. I understand one can learn more directly through tutoring, but really the program itself, to be effective, should do a good enough job the first time around in teaching or at least conveying the knowledge of grammar without the need for a tutor

The two kinds of lessons that infuriate me the most are Reading and Writing, and for two reasons. Number One, the testing reaches the point of brokenness. For Reading, it's easy enough for most of the way when you just have to match sentences with photographs. Then, in later units, some slides demand that you multiple-choice-ily construct entire sentences, blank after blank after blank, by clicking on the correct words, with no cues for several blanks at a time. This includes small articles, reflexive pronouns, and other words as well. (And even though the sentences are repeated from other exercises, like Speaking and Grammar, I don't memorize them word for word between exercises, as I'm sure no one else does either). This leads me to the Number Two reason for my frustration (in terms of Reading and Writing alike): the grading also basically reaches the point of brokenness. Get just ONE of those little blanks wrong, and the whole thing is wrong--no partial credit at all. This is equally maddening in the Writing segments here, where not only the testing can be considered broken through sporadic difficulty, but the grading is insanely unforgiving there too. In one segment, I misspelled ONE WORD, writing "diritto" instead of "dritto," and my final grade was a 94%. For ONE MISSPELLING. Everything else was perfect (mind you, it was like the third time through I was doing the exercise). Same thing happened to me just this evening with spelling a word as "chimicha" instead of "chimica," and the final grade was a 94% because that one misspelling. Make three tiny mistakes like that, and they prompt you to do the exercise again.

Now, you don't HAVE to do the exercise in question again, but the point is this: while I'm NOT a perfectionist, I AM a completionist. I of course don't need to get 100% on each exercise; however, as repetitive as they all can be, I would like to have officially completed every exercise, with a check mark on each circle showing completion. It's just that, with certain sections like Reading and Writing, the difficulty gets sucker-punch sporadic (after having slogged through insultingly easy sections like Vocabulary and Listening), such that the easier exercises can bore you to tears, while the harder ones can make you feel like an idiot because the broken dynamic of, once again for instance, having to construct a sentence blank for blank with, on many occasions, no cues as to what the correct word in a given blank should be, and no partial credit margin for error.
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on March 31, 2017
I like the immersion into the language. Unfortunately, the language recognition feature does not work with my Windows 10 machine. It's not the headset... I've used other headsets and get the same response. It's not the computer, because other voice recognition software works with any headset. I can only assume it is either the Rosetta software, or some incompatibility will my system. It cannot check my pronunciation, but I have other ways (not precise) to check that one aspect that doesn't work with this program.
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on March 2, 2017
This is my second Rosetta Stone product. The first was Chinese, which is a much harder language (in my opinion) than most others. It was excellent, so I bought the Italian program. It also works well, and is relatively easy to use. I highly recommend Rosetta Stone to anyone who wants to learn a language.
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on May 15, 2014
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on January 12, 2014
i returned this as it was not working and gave me alot of trouble skipping from one lesson to another not going from one to another lesson not following in order i was on chat and had a technician come in to my home yo assist me and we could not find the problem sorry but i was so excited when i got the program as i had waited a long time to afford this and now have to return it.
i was raised in an italian atmosphere and so wanted to recall that language.
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